AS their peers settle into the second week of the new school year, two Port Elizabeth teenagers spend their days watching television or playing in the park.
They are among pupils in the city who are battling to get placed in the district’s 100-plus high schools.
Pheza Cerini and Zimkitha Mbane, both 13, attended the Victoria Park Grey Primary School in Walmer, but could not get Grade 8 places at Victoria Park High.
Pheza says she spends her days "chilling”, watching television, or playing with her friends in the nearby park.
"I get very bored at home – there’s just not much to do,” she said.
"It makes me very sad that I don’t get to go to school like the others.
"I wish I could get a school, any school, as long as I get taught.”
Zimkitha said she was scared to be at home alone while everyone else was working or at school.
"It hurts to watch others go to school. I feel like I’m missing out on education.” Pheza’s mother, Prudence Cerini, said she had applied to VP High in March last year and was confident her daughter would be accepted because she had gone to VP Grey and stayed in Walmer township.
Cerini, a financial adviser for Old Mutual, said she had received a rejection letter in June, by when most of the other schools were already full.
She said she was told that her household income was too low, but VP High principal Michael Vermaak said this was impossible. "While it was unfortunate that the girls could not get into the school, there was no way the school would have turned any parent away on the basis of income,” Vermaak said. He said some pupils were subsidised.
Vermaak said that "our school is full and just [on Tuesday] the education department was here begging us to slot some in”.
Cerini said the education office had suggested her daughter go to Morningside High School [in Kabega], "but that is just inconvenient for me”.